Sarah Wells-Gaston reports…
Two days of grassroots eventing action drew in more than 500 entries for this year’s British Eventing fixture at Berkshire College of Agriculture. Each of the 16 sections – from BE90 to Novice, including Under 18 sections – was full to capacity.
Flora Mcfarlane and Squire Rebel scored a second victory in succession with a win in BE100 Open Under 18 Section F finishing on their dressage score of 22.5. Their previous win came at Pontispool. Flora stared riding Rebs, a 16.2 Irish hunter, about a year ago when her mother gave her the opportunity to try him after she had so much fun hunting him over the winter.
“I was a bit hesitant at first as he is very big and not a slight build as I was used to. However, he has the best character and is literally my best friend – taking the ride on him was the best decision I ever made.
At BCA we did our dressage test in very windy conditions but Rebel felt incredible and performed beautifully to produce a 22.5 score putting us four points in the lead which I was over the moon with. He followed this up with a lovely clear show jumping round. By the time we got over to the cross-country course I was really feeling the pressure. Rebs quite literally grows in the start box and I was worried about making some of the turns with some tricky combinations on course. However, he was such a good boy and flew round inside the time by 10 seconds. The feeling of coming through the finish reduced me to tears knowing we’d done it twice on the trot!
For the first 10 years of my life I lived abroad and horses were always my dream but it was only when we moved back to England did it become a reality and only two seasons ago did I start riding competitively. If someone had told me I would be here even three years ago I would never have believed them yet here we are. This season, it would be a dream come true to be selected for the under 18 championships at Frickley. Ideally, by the end of the season I would love to step up to Novice and see where Rebel and I can go together! I would like to thank my parents who have supported me unfalteringly for the last few years, through the best and very worst of times, especially my mother who literally dedicates her whole life to making sure I make the most of these opportunities whilst I am lucky enough to have access to them.”
Holly Woodhead has given DHI Houdini a fantastic start to the youngster’s eventing career and at BCA their picked up their second win in BE100 Section G. The pair had previously won at Whitfield with a third-place finish at Aston-Le-Walls. Amanda Bettle and Ysgwynfawr Fegus continued their winning form topping the standings in BE90 Section J. They previously won at Tweseldown and have not been out of the top six this season.
Having been crowned this year’s BE100 Champion at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton Alana Sparrow and Angel’s Spirit scored a win in BE100 Section N – with a penalty winning margin. Since winning the grassroots championship, the pair have also been third at Firle Place and second at Borde Hill. Alana was also ninth in BE90 Section J with Ardagh Aladdin. Both horses are owned by Rasshied Din, CEO of Chelwood Equestrian where she manages the 160 acre farm and equestrian centre.
She told Eventing Worldwide:
“Angels Spirit continued her great form winning her section by seven penalties. We’ve built up a really confident partnership, and after riding lots of young green horses its lovely to get back into ‘my slippers’ when I’m on her as we are so in sync. Ardagh Aladdin, produced another wonderful double clear – he’s a six-years-old and started his eventing career this season. He was bought by Rasshied from Brook and Kathy Staples at the end of last year – we are exceptionally greatful to them as they have done the most amazing job in producing him and giving him the time that he has needed – he has a very exciting future ahead of him and I can’t wait! Kathy was at BCA so it was great for them to see him out doing well. I am very lucky to be riding these horses, and very grateful to those around me who make it happen! Both Angels Spirit – Goose – and Ardagh Aladdin – Robin – also finished on their dressage scores at Borde Hill two weeks beforehand. I hope for this form to continue! Robin will move up later in the season, just to get some mileage in preparation for a ‘proper’ season next year. And Goose will continue at the grassroots level, where she is so consistent. BCA is a lovely event, both courses provided a good test, and very educational, and I thought the showjumping was also brilliantly put together. We had a really great day.”
Having competed at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup in the BE100 Championships, Nicola Collins made a successful step up to Novice winning Section B wth Jumbos Rose II.
Other section results: Novice Section A Khia Cadney-Moon, Dalme D Or De Blanche; Novice section C Howard Newitt, Grovine Class Act; Novice Section D Kristina Cook. Mexican Rose; Open Novice Under 18 Section E Daisy Minter, Another Island; BE100 Section H Alison Burns, Professor Sprout; BE90 Section I Laura Ridout, Colledge Sox; BE90 Section K Julie Middleton-Reid, Lady Jessicka; BE90 Section L Ollie Martin, MIH Harlequin; BE100 Open Section M Katy Jones, Step Smartly; BE100 Section O Harriet Upton, Twinkle; BE100 Section P Molly Faulkner; Finesse 372.
Images courtesy of Sarah Wells – Gaston